Painter Cally Curtis’s Chatham studio is a kaleidoscope of color and pattern. Her acrylic and mixed media creations reflect deep seated inspiration dating back to her childhood. “When I was about four, my parents were commissioned as United Methodist missionaries. They were stationed in the subtropics in what was then called Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. I lived there until I was 18. In Zimbabwe, the colors were brilliant. I think that’s where my love of color comes from. The sky was just forever blue. The flowers, stunning. The African fabrics full of beautiful patterns.”
Cally returned to the US to go to college while her family remained in Zimbabwe. She began at Baker University in Kansas, a small United Methodist college with many international students, and later transferred to the University of Georgia, majoring in Fine Art and Art Education with a minor in Journalism.
She worked as a DJ at a local radio station during college. After graduation, she landed a job as a DJ in Little Rock, Arkansas. “At that time, DJs had to write, voice and produce their own radio commercials for their clients,” she explains. “Not long after, a local ad agency offered me a job as a junior copywriter.” From there, Cally worked her way up to creative director of a big ad agency. She moved to Los Angeles and worked in ad agencies there for almost 10 years
In the ‘90s, Cally’s father became ill. “I moved to Georgia to be with my dad and bought a house in Decatur.” She freelanced in advertising until the “dot.com” crash and then made a serious career change that took her back to her artistic roots. “My house was next door to a little multicultural church called Oakhurst Presbyterian. I worked closely with the pastor and his wife in the life of the church and was thrilled when they made me their artist-in-residence. They gave me 2,000 square feet of unused space in the church to use as my studio, run camps and workshops, and hold art lessons for the community at large.” Cally also worked as a teaching artist with local museums, teaching K-12 art in schools throughout Greater Atlanta and running summer art camps. She moved to Chatham in 2014 and established her studio.
Cally sells her stylized paintings, “CallyWallys” and other assemblages for $5 to $1500. She will make her Chatham Studio Tour debut the first two weekends in December. “My favorite thing in making art is seeing what comes out – I have no idea what’s in my imagination and it’s always fun to see what (or who) shows up! I hope that people who see my work will feel good about our world.”